Do Standards Apply to Rescue Situations?The short answer is ‘yes and no’. Rescue equipment (which can of course be used for other purposes) will typically be designed and manufactured in accordance with one or more Australian or International Standards. Techniques and methodologies however may well fall outside the provision of most standards, particularly in Australia. The Standards Australia committee SF-015 responsible for height safety, fall arrest and rope access systems lists their ‘terms of reference’ as follows:
‘To provide suppliers and users with product specifications and use requirements for a range of personal and common use protective equipment for use in fall protection and industrial rope access. Excluded: rescue equipment’.Operating procedures and methodologies used by professional and volunteer organisations come ultimately under the mandate of Emergency Management Australia and in NSW, the State Rescue Board(SRB). SRB policies are applicable to organisations such as Police Rescue, SES, VRA, BWRS and so on. Some organisations with high level, specific situation requirements such as SCAT operate outside SRB guidelines. Individuals or organisations (such as a crane rigging company or a mine site) have the latitude to develop their own in house emergency response capability, particularly in the area of post fall recovery where fall arrest systems are being used. This capability does not have to be in accordance with SRB policies and would be removed from both AS 1891 and AS 4488 as there is no specific information in either of these standards detailing rescue procedures. Occupational Health and Safety Regulations place a requirement on employers to ensure that:
‘Adequate provision is made for the rescue of a person whose fall is arrested by a fall arrest device’.Given what is currently understood about orthostatic intolerance, or the body’s inability to withstand immobile suspension in a harness for even relatively short periods of time, this ‘provision for rescue’ needs to be a comprehensive pre-plan resourced with appropriate equipment and training.
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